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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 2006 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767

Let your spirit soar

By Rabbi David Aaron


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Secrets to sacred self-worth and Divine esteem


According to Jewish tradition, each Patriarch represents a Divine attribute. Abraham is the epitome of Chesed, "kindness", Isaac is Gevurah, "strength and judgment," and Jacob is Tiferes, "truth."


It would seem, however, that Abraham's life required more Gevurah than Chesed, because he was constantly challenged to be strong, judgmental, and sometimes even harsh. First he had to leave his family. Then he had to ask his nephew Lot to go away and settle elsewhere. When he heard that Lot was captured during a local war, Abraham battled valiantly to save him. Sarah, after being barren for so long, asked Abraham to father a child with her maidservant Hagar. Even though it surely pained both Abraham and Sarah, he nevertheless acquiesced to her request. Later in his life, G-d told Abraham to circumcise himself, his children and male servants. He bravely agreed. Upon the birth of Isaac, Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and Yishmael away, and with G-d's consent he did so. And finally, at the climax of his spiritual career, Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, his only son from Sarah. These were hardly the sorts of situations that express kindness. So how does Abraham represent Chesed?


We are all born with innate character dispositions. Some of us are simply naturally kind, or strong, or truthful. Beyond our natural inclinations, though, what distinguishes us from one another is whether we follow those instincts and link them with Divine values. Are we slaves to our personality or servants to G-d?


We transcend ourselves when, if the situation calls for it, we are able to do that which is the opposite of our own inclination. If a kind man is not able to be harsh and judgmental when it is appropriate, then his kindness is not truly a service to G-d. Rather, he is merely a slave to his innate personality. Abraham is known to have passed ten tests in his life. Each test was an opportunity to transcend himself from slavery to his instincts to freedom of service to G-d. Each of the forefathers is referred to as a Merkavah, a "vehicle" or "channel" for the Divine. They achieved this lofty status because they revealed G-d's attributes in the world through their service to G-d.

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Abraham's innate character disposition and natural inclination was kindness, selflessness and surrender. Abraham declared: "I am merely dust and ashes." (1) Abraham was also the first person to describe G-d as a Master, "ADO-NAI" and thereby introduced and promoted the idea that man should always strive to be G-d's humble servant. The Talmud (2) teaches:


From the day that the Holy One Blessed Be He created the world no one had ever called Him "Adon" (Master), until Abraham came upon the scene and called him "Adon," as it is written (Gen. 15:8): "O ADO-NAI YKVK, with what shall I know?" Rav said: Even Daniel was heard in his prayer for the sake of Abraham, for it says (Dan. 9:17): "Now therefore, O ADO-NAI, hearken unto the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications and cause Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary that is desolate for the sake of ADO-NAI." He ought to have said "For Your sake," but he means "For the sake of Abraham, who called You, ADO-NAI."


As a humble servant, Abraham understood that all that the servant owns is truly the Master's. Therefore, believing that he owned nothing, it was natural for him to give to others. A story is told about a fellow who needed a place to stay. He met a stranger who kindly offered to come stay by him. The next day the fellow still had nowhere to go. With great discomfort he asked, "Would it be okay if I stay just another night?" The owner of the home responded, "Why not? I have been a guest in this house for years and the Owner has not yet asked me to leave."


Altruism was Abraham's natural mode of behavior. However, his greatest challenge was to do for himself. "Go for yourself," (3) according to Rashi means to go for your pleasure and for your good. This is truly a feat for a selfless man whose life is devoted entirely to others. People who always give must also learn how to receive in order to succeed in relationships. The irony of Abraham's love odyssey was that he had to go for his own sake, which was ultimately for the sake of G-d — for the sake of a service to G-d.


(1) Genesis 18:27
(2) Berachos 7b
(3) Genesis 12:1


               — For more on about real you read Rabbi Aaron's classic: The Secret Life of G-d: Discovering the Divine within you


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JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, Inviting G-d In, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.



© 2006, Rabbi David Aaron